Michael Jackson Books

Below is the list of books by and about Michael Jackson. Only informative books are listed; photo books and tribute editions are not mentioned.

Each title contains a link to where the book can be purchased (usually on Amazon).

As it is often hard to give a book single assessment, each book is evaluated by three parameters:
Information value – new information about Michael, exclusive facts or recollections;
Fairness – absence of false and distorted information, speculation and bias;
Entertainment value – how interesting the book is to read.
The books are rated by 5-grade scale (“5” – the highest, “1” – the lowest). All opinions are subjective; you are welcome to disagree in comments.

Michael in his own words (aka “The Must”)

Dancing the dream cover Dancing the Dream by Michael Jackson
A book of poems and essays written by Michael and first released in 1992. It contains no biographical facts, but of all books out there, this one tells the most about Michael. Today, it feels almost eerie to read it – so vivid is the imprint of his soul in it. The poems and parables are simple, and yet they open up a whole new dimension of the inner world of a creative genius. Plus, even after the numerous recent tribute releases, Dancing the Dream remains one of the most beautiful photo books with fantastic atmospheric pictures of Michael. The latest edition is dated 2009 and is available through UK online stores.
Information value: N/A
Fairness: 5
Entertainment value: 5
Moonwalk book cover Moonwalk by Michael Jackson
Michael’s autobiography covering his life from childhood till 1988. Michael didn’t write the book himself – he worked with ghostwriters, but the text was composed based on lengthy interviews with him and approved by him. The narration is rather reserved: it offers no controversies, sensationalism or dark secrets from the artist’s private life. Michael talks about things he deems important, such as his growing up, his understanding of talent and professionalism, his art and fame, his attitude to life and work. He gives prosaic answers to the questions that occupy the minds of the public, but the truth oftentimes turns out to be duller than fiction. The story of Michael’s life told in his own words is surely more accurate than renditions of any biographers or memoirists.
Information value: 5
Fairness: 5
Entertainment value: 4
MJ Tapes book cover The Michael Jackson Tapes by Shmuley Boteach
The book is based of hours of conversations between Michael and his then friend and adviser, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach (the conversations were taped in 2000-2002). Michael talks about his attitude to life and work, women and family, fame and his role in culture and society. This is perhaps his most sincere interview ever, an attempt to reach out to people through their cynicism and prejudice – and be understood. Unfortunately, the author generously laced the conversations with his own comments, judgment and morale. His observations are sometimes interesting, but his attitude of self-proclaimed judge is annoying and spoils the impression from the book.
Information value: 3
Fairness: 5/2 (for Michael’s words and author’s comments respectively)
Entertainment value: 5
Honoring child spirit book cover Honoring The Child Spirit by Shmuley Boteach
This second book based on conversations between Michael and Shmuley Boteach is dedicated almost entirely to Michael’s insight into the concept of childhood. He speaks of things dearest to his heart: the childlike openness and the ability to see the joy and wonder in the world, the origins of his art and inspiration, his spirituality and perception of God. It is a heartfelt book that leaves the reader with a feeling of touching something pure, innocent and sincere. The book was scheduled for release in 2002, but due to Michael’s falling-out with Shmuley the project was postponed, and the book saw the light of day only in 2011, after Michael’s passing.
Information value: 2
Fairness: 5
Entertainment value: 5

Biographies

Magic and the madness book cover The Magic And The Madness by J. R. Taraborrelli
Fans have polar opinions about this book, but currently it is the only complete biography of Michael Jackson that offers insight into his life beyond publicly recorded events. Its main advantage is the wealth of details and inside stories. The book has evolved through several updates between 1991 and 2010, during which time the author kept observing Michael’s life, seeking out witness accounts and collecting information. Today, it would be nearly impossible to repeat this feat, with witnesses gone and memories fading. That’s why, despite the sometimes questionable factual accuracy, Taraborrelli’s book usually appears at the top of the list of references in most serious writings on Jackson’s life and art.
The author’s strong tendency to fictionalize the narrative is one of the book’s disadvantages – it reads more like a dramatic novel than a realistic biography. (Although this same quality makes it fascinating, which is arguably important for a volume of 700 plus pages.) Also, it is clear now that not every story in the book is true – at times it was difficult for an outsider to tell the truth from fiction in Michael Jackson’s life. But the biggest drawback is that the author tries to interpret Michael’s motives and actions through his own perceptions and worldview, forcing his way of thinking upon Jackson. Therefore, the portrait painted in the book somewhat resembles the author himself. Still, it is one of the most complete and easy-written stories of Michael Jackson’s life, and the author generally sympathizes with his protagonist.
Information value: 5
Fairness: 3
Entertainment value: 5
The Complete Story of the King of Pop by Lisa Campbell Michael Jackson: The Complete Story of the King of Pop by Lisa D. Campbell
This is a complete chronological biography of Michael Jackson published after his death, in 2012. As other books by Lisa Campbell (also mentioned below), this one is meticulously compiled of publicly known and verified facts, dates and statements about Michael’s life. It’s thorough and may be the most accurate of all existing books on Michael Jackson, but at the same time it offers no first-hand accounts and absolutely no insight into his creative mind or personal life. Some might argue that this is what a biography’s supposed to be – verified and boring – but then this begs the question of how many people will be able to read it to the end to appreciate these virtues.
Information value: 2
Fairness: 5
Entertainment value: 2
Defending a King book cover Defending a King ~ His Life & Legacy by Dr. Karen Moriarty
The author was initially hired as a ghostwriter by Jackson’s bodyguards for their enterprise to write a book about the singer’s last years. Due to internal disagreements in the group, Dr. Moriarty’s writing project span off, and she ended up publishing her own book. It can be classified as Jackson’s biography – not chronological, but structured by themes: “The Entertainer,” “The Philanthropist,” “The Father,” etc. Mostly, the book retells already known facts and events; the sparse, although precious new material is based on the bodyguards’ stories from the post-trial period. Michael’s fans criticized the book for factual inaccuracies, but in general it’s not bad. Its main drawback is in the fact that the author is obviously a fan, and her a desire to “defend” Jackson by explaining his motivation and behavior stands out on every page.
Information value: 3
Fairness: 4
Entertainment value: 3
Untouchable: The Strange Life and Tragic Death of Michael Jackson book cover Untouchable: The Strange Life and Tragic Death of Michael Jackson by Randall Sullivan
This book is an attempt to write yet another biography of Michael Jackson focusing on his last years. The author, a former editor for Rolling Stone magazine, obviously knew little about Jackson when he decided to undertake this project – he freely admits in the book that he had no interest in the singer beyond the Thriller album. The book is based on Taraborrelli’s biography, media archives and recollections of a handful of witnesses, some of which may be considered reliable and some clearly may not. The result reflects the approach: accurately reported events (Michael’s life in Ireland, the 2005 trial) are mixed with gross mistakes, speculations about Michael’s alleged asexuality, adopted children and plastic noses. The book is stuffed with details of little importance. It gives a thorough account of Michael’s various problems, but completely avoids talking about his work or creative side. The image presented in the book hardly resembles the real artist. The book gives you an idea about the environment Michael lived in during his last years, but considering the overall sloppy narrative, it makes you wonder how accurate even that description is. Not really a book that can be recommended.
Information value: 3
Fairness: 1
Entertainment value: 2

Memoirs

You Are Not Alone book cover You Are Not Alone: Michael Through a Brother’s Eyes by Jermaine Jackson
One of the best books about Michael’s childhood years and early career; his life through the eyes of his brother. Jermaine and Michael had a complicated relationship, and with this book released during the difficult period of grief for the Jackson family, Jermaine finally gave Michael all the brotherly love and support he probably didn’t have a chance to give him during his life. A large portion of the book is dedicated to the Jackson brothers’ childhood in Indiana and the Jackson 5 period. The story was told many times before, and yet, Jermaine doesn’t simply rehash the already known anecdotes – he manages to fill the narration with vivid details that turn the characters into real human beings, immerse the reader in their lives and explain a lot about Michael – even to his longtime fans. His image contains so many recognizable details and is painted with such affection that it seems impossible not to fall in love with him after reading this book.
Information value: 5
Fairness: 5
Entertainment value: 4
My Friend Michael: An Ordinary Friendship with an Extraordinary Man book cover My Friend Michael: An Ordinary Friendship with an Extraordinary Man by Frank Cascio
The author, Frank Cascio, knew Michael for twenty five years, first as one of the kids Michael befriended, and later as his close friend and personal assistant. His story is not about the King of Pop, it is about Michael the person. The book covers the time period from 1993 to the last years of Michael’s life. The first part is dedicated to Michael’s and Frank’s adventures while Frank was still a kid and gives a rare glimpse into the wonderful, magical world Michael shared with his younger friends. As Frank grew up, their relationship developed into a more mature and business one – he became Michael’s employee and discovered the not-always-pretty insides of the life of a superstar. The book offers an intimate picture of a close friend.
Information value: 5
Fairness: 5
Entertainment value: 5
Remember the Time: Protecting Michael Jackson in His Final Days Remember the Time: Protecting Michael Jackson in His Final Days by Bill Whitfield, Javon Beard, Tanner Colby
The long-awaited book based on the story of Michael Jackson’s bodyguards who worked for him in 2006-2009 covers the last years of Michael’s life. These were the years of solitude for Michael, with few developments in his career and rare public appearances. Little was known about his affairs at that time – because there was hardly anyone near him to tell the story. So this book fills in an important gap. It tells of Michael’s family life with his kids, of his qualities as a father, of his late creative work, of his fears and aspirations, and pretty much describes what constituted his life after the infamous trial. The story is funny at times, sad at times, and very touching. Bill and Javon were probably the only two people who remained truly loyal to Michael by the end of his life. Maybe because they were such uncomplicated guys, they managed to stay away from the slough of hypocrisy and greed that always surrounded him. It is commendable that they stood by him when not many would have.
Together with Jermaine’s book which mostly focuses on the early years, and Frank Cascio’s book which covers the period up to the trial, this volume completes a fascinating first-person story about the life of the extraordinary man.
Information value: 5
Fairness: 5
Entertainment value: 5
King of Style: Dressing Michael Jackson book cover King of Style: Dressing Michael Jackson by Michael Bush
The book is written by the long-time designer and costumer of Jackson, Michael Bush. While it is mainly dedicated to Michael’s stage clothing and style, along the way Bush reveals a wealth of secrets and priceless stories about Michael’s way of working and making creative decisions, the goals he aimed for and his expectations from colleagues and creative partners. This book contains a unique portrait of Michael Jackson the global superstar and consummate entertainer. The edition is rich and beautiful, full of high resolution photographs of Michael and his iconic costume designs. A must-have for an MJ fan.
Information value: 5
Fairness: 5
Entertainment value: 5
Remember the Time: A True Intimate Look at Michael Jackson book cover Remember the Time: A True Intimate Look at Michael Jackson by Theresa J. Gonsalves
The author is a fan who was lucky to meet Michael in person and see him from time to time between the mid-70s and the Bad period. After Michael’s death, Theresa’s story suddenly acquired new interesting details (in particular, her claims of intimacy with Michael), so it’s hard to tell for sure what in the book is true and what is her fantasy. Still, it’s a touching story. Whatever happened between them, one thing is certain – Theresa really did know Michael (there are pictures of them together in the book), and he is quite recognizable in her reminiscences. The book is written in the form of letters to Michael.
Information value: 2
Fairness: 3
Entertainment value: 4
In Search of Neverland book cover In Search of Neverland by Gloria Berlin
A memoir of the real estate broker who helped Michael to purchase his Neverland Ranch. The events described in the book take place in 1985-86, and Michael appears as this charming, mischievous and dreamy young man – just as you see him in the videos of that period. A sweet book.
Information value: 4
Fairness: 4
Entertainment value: 4

Maker of Dreams: Creating Michael Jackson's Neverland Valley Park Maker of Dreams: Creating Michael Jackson’s Neverland Valley Park by Robert Swinson
The author of the book, Rob Swinson, a builder of amusement rides, was hired by Michael Jackson to create the amusement park at his Neverland Valley Ranch in the early 90s. The book is quite short and there isn’t much to the story, but Rob shares a few very sweet moments with Michael that make you feel his truly childlike nature. The book tells the story of the Neverland Amusement Park construction and provides many photos of the carousel, the train and the rides installation. It’s a fascinating glimpse into the birth of a fairytale.
Information value: 3
Fairness: 5
Entertainment value: 4

An Agoraphobic's Guide to Hollywood: How Michael Jackson Got Me Out of the House book cover An Agoraphobic’s Guide to Hollywood: How Michael Jackson Got Me Out of the House by Darlene Craviotto
The book is written by the screenwriter who created the script for movie “Peter Pan” by Steven Spielberg in which Michael was supposed to star. The project eventually took another direction and developed into movie “The Hook” released in 1991 without Michael’s participation. The book is not only about Michael Jackson, the author also tells the story of the project and her own struggles with it (she suffers from agoraphobia). However, at its early stages, the project evolved around Michael as the central character, so a large part of the book is dedicated to him. Darlene worked with him personally, and they had managed to complete the script before the project fell apart. The book casts light on Michael’s perception of the Peter Pan character – his comments are provided in first person, transcribed from audio tapes recorded on Michael’s request. Michael identified with Peter Pan, and his view of this character is revealing.
Information value: 4
Fairness: 3
Entertainment value: 4

Michael Jackson: Die wahre Geschichte book cover Michael Jackson: Die wahre Geschichte by Dieter Wiesner (published in German)
Dieter Wiesner was Jackson’s business partner and later manager in the period between the late 90s and early 2000s. In the book, he talks about his work with Michael, their projects and relationship. The story is somewhat sketchy: Wiesner jumps over long time periods, wastes pages on repeating well-known events, yet barely touches on exclusive projects he did with Michael – the topic that would be of most interest to fans. Moreover, his story is one-sided: Dieter only writes about the good stuff and completely omits his falling out with Michael and subsequent lawsuit. Knowing this, you wonder what other skeletons he left in the closet. The most interesting tidbits are anecdotes about Michael from Dieter’s personal recollection.
Information value: 4
Fairness: 3
Entertainment value: 4

Michael Jacobshagen Will You Be My Friend book cover Will You Be My Friend by Michael Jacobshagen
A thin book written in bad English language by the German author whom Michael briefly befriended as a boy after the HIStory tour. The book is entirely positive towards Michael, but it contains a lot of speculation about events Jacobshagen didn’t personally witness and, as some knowledgeable fans say, greatly exaggerates his closeness to Michael and the amount of time they spent together.
Information value: 2
Fairness: 3
Entertainment value: 2

Conversations In Neverland with Michael Jackson book cover Conversations In Neverland with Michael Jackson by Dr. William B. Van Valin
A short story told by the doctor from Santa Ynez Valley who was a friend of Michael’s between 2000 and 2005. Ethically avoiding the subjects of doctor-patient confidentiality, the author talks about the quality time he spent with Michael, their conversations and his affection for the lively, intelligent and slightly eccentric man he was privileged to know. Simple at first glance, Dr. Van Valin’s story bears wisdom and is in many ways revealing of Michael’s character.
Information value: 3
Fairness: 5
Entertainment value: 4

The Real Comeback: Japan 2006 book cover The Real Comeback: Japan 2006 by Broderick Morris
The story of Michael’s visit to Japan in 2006, soon after his acquittal. The impact of the trial on Michael and his emotional vulnerability at the time are showing between the lines.
Information value: 4
Fairness: 4
Entertainment value: 4

In the studio with Michael Jackson In the studio with Michael Jackson by Bruce Swedien
Bruce Swedien was Michael’s longtime sound engineer who worked on all of his albums starting with Off the Wall. The major part of the book is dedicated to sound equipment, methods and secrets of sound recording and would be interesting primarily to sound engineers and music producers. The book contains a lot of self-praise and quotes of Swedien’s colleagues about him. Chunks of the same text are repeated in different chapters revealing a poor editing job. There are a few stories about Michael and his style of work, but not as many as a fan would have liked to see.
Information value: 2
Fairness: 5
Entertainment value: 2
It's all about L.O.V.E. book cover It’s all about L.O.V.E. by Brigitte Bloemen, Marina Dobler, Miriam Lohr
A collection of stories from Michael’s fans describing how they followed him around the world, attended his concerts and visited Neverland, spent nights under his hotel windows, met with him and supported him in tribulations of his life. At times, it sounds incredible – the book fully reflects the frenzy that surrounded Michael. At other times, it brings tears to your eyes – Michael’s relationship with his fans was surprisingly close and touching, not something you would typically expect from the star of this magnitude. But most of all, the book answers its name – it really is about love. The emotions pouring from its pages will touch even the most skeptical reader, leaving one amazed by just how much this person was loved and cherished all over the world. You can only imagine how Michael must have felt being on the receiving end of these emotions, how it must have inspired him and gave him strength.
Information value: 3
Fairness: 5
Entertainment value: 4
A life for L.O.V.E.: Michael Jackson stories you should have heard before A life for L.O.V.E.: Michael Jackson stories you should have heard before by Brigitte Bloemen, Marina Dobler, Miriam Lohr
The second book by the same team of authors, this time presenting a collection of stories from and about people whom Michael Jackson helped or who witnessed his compassion first-hand. It is simply amazing to learn more and more of the accounts about Michael’s humanitarian acts that were never publicized, but known only to direct participants. Many of these stories have been told after his death. Another portion is revealed in this book. How many are still untold, one can only guess. The man truly had a heart of gold.
Information value: 4
Fairness: 5
Entertainment value: 4
The Lost Boy: Michael Jackson Lost Boy: Michael Jackson by Kit Culkin (unpublished, link to download)
An account of Macaulay Culkin’s father about his son’s friendship with Michael Jackson, written during Michael’s trial in 2005. Annoyed by insinuations in the media regarding the nature of relationship between Michael and his son, Kit offers his version of the story and shares his impression of Michael. The story is interesting because it is told by someone who knew Michael personally, yet was neither a star-struck fan nor a resentful ex-friend/employee. His perspective is, therefore, somewhat refreshing. However, Kit Culkin is a sarcastic and cynical guy, and some of his opinions of Michael might not be welcomed by fans. Side note: the book is not very well written – with lots of parentheses and complex grammatical constructs.
Information value: 3
Fairness: 3
Entertainment value: 4

Michael Jackson: The Man Behind the Mask book cover Michael Jackson: The Man Behind the Mask by Bob Jones and Stacey Brown
A book of the disgruntled dismissed employee. Bob Jones was Michael’s PR manager for many years until he was let go in 2004. As a response to his dismissal, Jones came up with this book. The book is poorly structured – the story is fragmented, jumping from one topic to another, filled with unfounded allegations and dirt. It wasn’t even written by Bob Jones himself – the real writer was Stacey Brown, a tabloid reporter known for his fictional stories about Michael and the Jackson family. The only lesson that can be derived from this book (if any at all) is that you should be delicate in firing people in order to not end up as an object of cheap vendetta like this one. It is hard to say which parts of the story are trustworthy, truthful recollections. Too bad, because Bob Jones had worked as the head of Michael’s PR team for many years and surely had a lot of real interesting stories to tell.
Information value: 2
Fairness: 1
Entertainment value: 2
Leonard Rowe What Really Happened to Michael Jackson What Really Happened To Michael Jackson by Leonard Rowe
Leonard Rowe is a tour promoter who has known the Jackson family since the late 70s and got briefly involved in Michael’s affairs as his appointed manager a few weeks before Michael’s death in 2009. Rowe tells the story of “This Is It” tour preparation as he saw it. The story itself is quite short as his employment didn’t progress past a few meetings with Michael. A big portion of the book is dedicated to Rowe’s own struggles against racism in the entertainment industry. There is also a lot of speculation about the murder of Michael, the enslaving contract with AEG and the fradulent will. Unfortunately, the allegations are largely based on assumptions that lack factual foundation. With that, no matter how sympathetic towards Michael, they remain nothing more than conspiracy theories.
Information value: 3
Fairness: 2
Entertainment value: 3

Jackson family autobiographies

My Family: The Jacksons by Katherine Jackson
A book by the matriarch of the large family. This really says it all. The mother always maintains peace in the family; the mother never blames her children; the mother loves all of the children equally. The book is pretty unremarkable aside from a few cute anecdotes about Michael (like the story about him being arrested for an overdue ticket).
Information value: 3
Fairness: 4
Entertainment value: 3

The Jacksons book cover Die Jacksons by Joseph Jackson (published in German)
An autobiography of Michael’s father, Joseph. Whereas Katherine’s book covers the period until the end of the 80’s, Joseph also talks about the 90’s and the beginning of the new century. There is little exclusive information about Michael in the book, as by this time he had distanced himself from the family. The most impressive part is probably the story of the Jacksons’ ancestors, African-American slaves and Indian shamans.
Information value: 2
Fairness: 4
Entertainment value: 3

Growing up in the Jackson Family book cover Growing up in the Jackson Family by La Toya Jackson
The first autobiography of Michael’s sister La Toya. Her memories about growing up with Michael in Encino are interesting, but at some point the story begins to resemble a thriller. Everyone’s consensus later was that La Toya had not been completely lucid at the time.
Information value: 3
Fairness: 4
Entertainment value: 4

Starting Over by La Toya Jackson
La Toya’s second attempt to write her own biography 20 years later. The majority of the book is dedicated to the description of tortures she suffered in captivity of her husband who brainwashed her and forced her to do evil things. A third of the book is about Michael, mostly the trial period and events following his death. These chapters are especially painful. La Toya remembers her brother with affection, but her narrative is full of so much anguish and drama that it leaves you devastated and emotionally drained. Besides, La Toya is susceptible to conspiracy theories, and at times it is difficult to separate reality from vivid pictures produced by her imagination.
Information value: 4
Fairness: 3
Entertainment value: 4
Jackson Family Values Jackson Family Values: Memories of Madness by Margaret Maldonado
A book written by Jermaine’s ex-wife; an inside look at the seemingly perfect Jackson family idyll. The woman was abused during her marriage, both physically and emotionally, so the whole family is painted in the light that is far from glowing. With the exception of Michael. He gets a total of a couple of pages in the book because Margaret barely communicated with him, but she speaks of him with the utmost respect and gratitude. It tells a tale.
Information value: 3
Fairness: 4
Entertainment value: 5

Reference books

A Visual Documentary Michael Jackson: A Visual Documentary by Adrian Grant
Michael’s biography rigorously pieced together day by day: all his public appearances, charitable events, concerts, press conferences and other more or less important occasions of his life. A perfect book to flick through on a dull morning to find out what Michael was doing on the same day back in 19-something. Adrian Grant is one of the oldest and most ardent Jackson fans.
Information value: 5
Fairness: 5
Entertainment value: N/A
For The Record Michael Jackson For The Record by Chris Cadman and Craig Halstead
A reference list of all known songs that Michael ever wrote, recorded or otherwise contributed to. The songs are listed in alphabetical order, and brief history is provided for each one: when, with whom and how it was written, recorded and released. A must-have book, especially as a source of information about the unreleased music. The latest edition is dated 2009, and songs that first became known after Michael’s death are not yet included.
Information value: 5
Fairness: 5
Entertainment value: N/A
Michael Jackson The Maestro Michael Jackson The Maestro by Chris Cadman
An extended reenvision of “For the Record” that includes alphabetically structured information about not only songs, but also films, performances, record achievements, interviews, charities, people, notable events and media publications – in other words, everything of any significance that is identifiable by name and related to Michael Jackson. Pretty much Michael Jackson from A to Z, in a hefty two-volume edition.
Information value: 5
Fairness: 5
Entertainment value: N/A

Research and critique

Man In The Music by Joseph Vogel Man in the Music: The Creative Life and Work of Michael Jackson by Joseph Vogel
This is hands down the best book about Michael Jackson’s music – not only today, but perhaps for 10-20 years to come. As far as critical analysis of Michael’s solo career is concerned, “Man in the Music” is the first book to read, because there is simply no match for it in due acknowledgement and appreciation of his talent. A lot had been written about Jackson’s career from Motown years up to the Thriller album, but Joe Vogel was the first to embark on a serious research of his later, often more profound and underrated material. Album by album, song after song, Vogel takes the reader through the artist’s music catalog, starting with Off the Wall and concluding with the unreleased material of the last years. Along the way, he uncovers secrets of songwriting and reveals concealed treasures of sound and meaning. The book is a pleasure to read – from a wealth of facts about the albums creation to apt words of Michael’s collaborators – it paints a portrait of the master in a professional yet affectionate style. Besides, the book offers a great collection of photographs that illustrate the text. It’s almost a coffee table photobook, but its main value is the tour into the creative world of a great musician, conducted with undeniable love and respect.
Information value: 5
Fairness: 5
Entertainment value: 5
Earth Song: Inside the Michael Jackson's Magnum Opus Earth Song: Inside the Michael Jackson’s Magnum Opus by Joseph Vogel
An in-depth exploration of “Earth Song,” one of the central pieces in Michael Jackson’s catalog. Vogel reconstructs the detailed story of the song creation, speaks about its importance to Michael, evaluates (and destroys) skeptical reviews by the media, analyzes the music video and symbols used by Michael in the live performance of the song. The book exemplifies the level of critical discourse that Michael Jackson’s work deserves.
Information value: 5
Fairness: 5
Entertainment value: 4

Xscape Origins by Damien Shields Xscape Origins: The Songs and Stories Michael Jackson Left Behind by Damien Shields
This is a precious book for Michael Jackson fans who are interested in the anatomy of his art and creative process. The book traces the origins of 8 songs released on the second posthumous album Xscape – namely “Love Never Felt So Good,” “Loving You,” “Chicago” (originally titled “She Was Loving Me”), “A Place With No Name,” “Slave To The Rhythm,” “Do You Know Where Your Children Are,” “Blue Gangsta” and “Xscape” – and provides a context for the album. Many of Michael’s creative collaborators were exclusively interviewed for the book, and their quotes are given in first person. Besides telling the story of each song, the book paints a vivid picture of Michael’s artistic side and his modus operandi in the recording studio. The foreword is written by Jackson’s long-time engineer Matt Forger.
Information value: 5
Fairness: 5
Entertainment value: 4
Michael Jackson: The Early Years Michael Jackson: The Early Years by Chris Cadman and Craig Halstead
Michael’s biography written with heavy emphasis on his career, covering the period of Jackson 5 and The Jacksons. The Jackson 5 and the Jacksons albums are listed in chronological order along with solo projects of the brothers and compilations released by Motown after the band had left the label. Singles, chart positions, TV appearances and main career events are also included. A great navigator in the sea of countless Motown releases.
Information value: 5
Fairness: 5
Entertainment value: 2
Michael Jackson: The Solo Years Michael Jackson: The Solo Years by Chris Cadman and Craig Halstead
This book is similar to the previous one, but focuses on Jackson’s solo career. It offers a short bio and lists all Michael’s solo releases in chronological order, starting from Motown solo releases and up to Invincible. Chart positions, awards and nominations are also listed. Unlike Joe Vogel’s book, this one contains little information about how the songs were created and is devoid of critical analysis. Instead, it offers curious information about rarities and side projects in which Michael participated. The book has factual mistakes – by author’s own admission, it was his early and least accurate book on MJ. Besides, released in 2003, it does not contain information about Number Ones, The Ultimate Collection and subsequent releases. “For The Record” supersedes it with regards to accuracy and completeness.
Information value: 3
Fairness: 5
Entertainment value: 2
Thriller: The Musical Life Of Michael Jackson Thriller: The Musical Life Of Michael Jackson by Nelson George
The book is dedicated primarily to the Thriller album. With more than a hundred million copies sold, both praising and criticizing the album would be pointless today. So instead, George places the album in the context of its time. He describes the musical scenery of the late 70’s – early 80’s: what was popular, what albums were recognized by the critics, what kind of music was on the radio and who were the top DJs at Studio 54, a popular New York night club that Michael frequented in ’77-79. George also talks about the musicians who wrote songs for Thriller (besides those written by Michael himself): who they were, what styles they worked in, and what music influenced them. In other words, he traces back the origin of the album – that, as every work of art, grew out of the artistic environment of its era. The book is sometimes criticized by fans because the author made a few ambiguous statements about Michael and wasn’t fluent in his biography (mixing up the names of his wives, etc.). Nevertheless, George successfully accomplishes his task – to take the readers back to the era when the greatest album of all time was created.
Information value: 5
Fairness: 3
Entertainment value: 4
Michael Jackson's Dangerous (33 1/3) by Susan Fast Michael Jackson’s Dangerous (33 1/3) by Susan Fast
An academic critique of Michael Jackson’s Dangerous album – one of the best works in terms of depth of the album analysis and interpretation. The book divides the album into 5 consecutive segments, each with its own theme – “Noise,” “Desire,” “Utopia,” “Soul” and “Coda” – and explores how each of the themes is revealed in the album songs. If you are into academic analysis of the pop music, this is the book for you; if it’s not your thing, and you are looking for more of a documentary insight, turn to Vogel’s and Shield’s books instead.
Information value:N/A
Fairness: 5
Entertainment value: 3
Keep Moving: The Michael Jackson Chronicles Keep Moving: The Michael Jackson Chronicles by Armond White
A collection of articles about Michael Jackson’s music by film critic Armond White. White’s critique stands out, because, contrary to the established narrative, he believes the Thriller album to be among the lesser interesting works of Jackson and sees his main breakthrough in the later records, especially Dangerous, HIStory and Blood on the Dance Floor. What is even more significant, he has held this opinion for many years, from the moment those records were released (the collection includes articles written between 1984 and 2009). Against the majority of reviews of Jackson’s music in the Western press, this is a refreshing point of view. White’s analysis of Jackson’s art (and the reaction to it in the mainstream media) is rich with references to the history of racism in the US and the status of African-American performers in show business.
Information value: N/A
Fairness: 4
Entertainment value: 3
Featuring Michael Jackson: Collected Writings on the King of Pop Featuring Michael Jackson: Collected Writings on the King of Pop by Joseph Vogel
A collection of brilliant articles on Jackson’s music by Joe Vogel. Some articles are dedicated to particular songs, others address more abstract topics like perception of Jackson’s persona in the media and his place in the conteporary music scene. Vogel’s essays continue to be the most insightful and profound of all critical works about Michael Jackson’s art. This book is a great addition to any fan’s library although it has a simple design, and almost all of the articles are available in free access on Huffington Post and The Atlantic websites.
Information value: 2
Fairness: 5
Entertainment value: 5
On Michael Jackson On Michael Jackson by Margo Jefferson
An attempt at loose interpretation of the significance of Michael Jackson’s persona in modern culture. Not a particularly successful one. The main problem of the book is that, instead of interpreting Jackson’s art, the author takes to interpreting the man himself, while knowing and understanding little about him. As a result, her interpretations, neither good nor bad by themselves, are quite detached from reality. Jefferson dwells on parallels from history and culture, but offers no conclusions, leaving the reader puzzled as to what she meant to say.
Information value: N/A
Fairness: 2
Entertainment value: 2
M Poetica: Michael Jackson's Art of Connection and Defiance M Poetica: Michael Jackson’s Art of Connection and Defiance by Willa Stillwater
Willa Stillwater managed to do what Margo Jefferson failed at. This book is a fascinating critical analysis of Jackson’s artistry reaching far beyond the frameworks of his art and into his life. The author advances the idea that Michael staged a drama not only on stadiums and in his music videos, but also, like Maestro in “Ghosts”, performed for the public on the stage of his own life. By reinventing himself, he challenged and changed the perceptions of people. You can agree with the author or argue with her, but the questions raised in this book will surely make you look at the importance of Michael Jackson’s persona in modern culture at a different angle. In short, this book presents the portrait of a genius.
Information value: N/A
Fairness: 4
Entertainment value: 5

Michael Jackson: Exceptional Artist or Genius? Points to Consider Michael Jackson: Exceptional Artist or Genius? Points to Consider by Franck Vidiella
A rather short article in which the author uses formal criteria in an attempt to evaluate whether Michael Jackson was a genius or merely a very gifted artist. Yes, it turns out brilliance has formal criteria too. It’s an interesting essay. For his fans, Michael Jackson is undoubtedly a genius, but the book explores this concept a little deeper. So what’s the conclusion? Find out for yourself, for only $0.99! Cute illustrations are a bonus.
Information value: N/A
Fairness: 4
Entertainment value: 4
Michael Jackson, Inc. Michael Jackson, Inc.: The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of a Billion-Dollar Empire by Zack O’Malley Greenburg
The book focuses on the business side of the Michael Jackson empire. It chronologically details the stories of Jackson’s greatest business deals, including his acquisition of the ATV catalog, Neverland, and promo campaigns with LA Gear and Sony. Some exclusive information is given, but not much – for the most part, these stories are well-known and have been extensively documented. The flaw of the book, from a fan’s perspective, is that, rather than talking about the abundance of creative ideas conceived by Michael, it focuses solely on execution, usually by Jackson’s camp of lawyers and managers, of the deals that came through. The book, therefore, may create an impression that Michael wasn’t a paramount force in building his own empire. It’s a false impression.
Information value: 3
Fairness: 4
Entertainment value: 3
Behind The Mask: What Michael Jackson's Body Language Told The World Behind The Mask: What Michael Jackson’s Body Language Told The World by Craig James Baxter
The author, a body language specialist, analyses several Jackson’s interviews (including his interview with Oprah Winfrey and the Martin Bashir documentary) and tries to draw conclusions about the truth in Michael’s answers and his emotional state during the interviews. The analysis is interesting because Baxter points out unconscious gestures that Michael makes when talking, and shows how they are connected with the interviewer’s behavior. The book was widely acclaimed by fans due to the author’s attempt to vindicate Michael Jackson, but in truth, the interpretations are noticeably slanted. It is known that Michael often used evasive tactics when he did not like the direction of the questions. And when Baxter’s conclusions based on the video contradict known facts, the bias becomes obvious.
Information value: N/A
Fairness: 3
Entertainment value: 2

Goodbye Billie Jean: The Meaning of Michael Jackson by Lorette C. Luzajic
An atrocious book which, in the amount of ignorance per page, competes only with Halperin. The book is a collection of essays about Michael Jackson with which various journalists, writers and common people reacted to his passing in 2009. Luzajic intended to provide a representative sampling of people’s opinions about Jackson and his place in culture. But this picture just makes you want to cry. None of the authors have a clue about what kind of a person Michael was or what happened in his life, their opinions are based on misconceptions and tabloid rumors, and yet they believe they have the right to judge him and even take pity on him. The book has little to do with Michael Jackson, but is very telling of our society.
Information value: N/A
Fairness: 1
Entertainment value: 1
The Resistible Demise of Michael Jackson by Mark Fisher
Another collection of essays about Michael Jackson released in 2010. It is only slightly better than the previous one, and only because the majority of authors are art critics and music journalists who at least try to keep the discussion to the music, although this does not save them from biased and ignorant conclusions. There are a few relatively interesting essays at the beginning (including those by Paul Lester and Mark Fisher), but by the end, the book becomes disgusting to read.
Information value: N/A
Fairness: 2
Entertainment value: 2
Michael Jackson: Grasping the Spectacle Michael Jackson: Grasping the Spectacle by Christopher R. Smit
Yet another collection of essays, of 2012. This one claims to be academic – all articles are written in intricate language, with lots of literary terminology and complex linguistic structures. In essence, none of the articles add anything new to the discussion about the cultural phenomenon of Michael Jackson. For the most part, they are abstract speculations about abstract matters. One or two pieces are worth reading that talk about the effect caused by Jackson’s persona in the society.
Information value: N/A
Fairness: 2
Entertainment value: 1
Trapped: Michael Jackson and the Crossover Dream Trapped: Michael Jackson and the Crossover Dream by Dave Marsh
An old book written by an American rock critic in 1984, right after the Jacksons’ Victory Tour. The book is structured in the form of open letters to Michael in which the author talks about his fame and personality. 30 years later, some of the chapters don’t make a lot of sense, and some of the conclusions that the author draws about Michael sound ridiculous. Still, the book is interesting because it reflects Jackson’s status and the perception of him (at least, by white rock critics) as of that specific historical moment. Today, after many the years of news, controversies and the second wave of acknowledgement, it is hard to recreate that moment of 30 years ago and see how Michael’s relationship with the public at that time affected his future career. The book, like a time machine, provides a glimpse into that period.
Information value: N/A
Fairness: 3
Entertainment value: 2
Otherness and Power: Michael Jackson and His Media Critics Otherness and Power: Michael Jackson and His Media Critics by Susan Woodward
A brilliant work: thoughtful, knowledgeable and adding to the conversation about the cultural phenomenon of MJ. The author focuses on three books/authors who most notably criticized Jackson’s persona: Dave Marsh (“Trapped: Michael Jackson and The Crossover Dream”), Maureen Orth (her articles for Vanity Fair) and Mark Fisher (“The Resistible Demise of Michael Jackson”) and shows how perception of Jackson’s power and otherness caused bias and negative reaction in these authors’ works. It helps if you are familiar with the works criticized, but if not, Woodward provides enough context to understand the authors’ position before she analyzes it. Critisism of critisism is an interesting genre, and it’s nice to see such works beginning to appear in regards to Michael Jackson. He was, after all, grossly misunderstood and misjudged by critics for the major part of his career.
Information value: N/A
Fairness: 5
Entertainment value: 4

Books about the allegations and trial

Was Michael Jackson Framed?: The Untold Story That Brought Down a Superstar Was Michael Jackson Framed?: The Untold Story That Brought Down a Superstar by Mary Fischer
Mary Fischer’s lengthy article was first published in GQ magazine in 1994. Fischer investigated the allegations made by Evan and Jordan Chandler against Michael Jackson and presented evidence pointing at the fact that the allegations were nothing but an extortion attempt. The article is widely known among fans – for a long time, it remained the sole reliable public rebuttal to the allegations of 1993.
Information value: 4
Fairness: 5
Entertainment value: 3

Michael Jackson: The King of Pop's Darkest Hour Michael Jackson: The King of Pop’s Darkest Hour by Lisa D. Campbell
The book is written in 1994, hot on the heels of the Chandler allegations, and contains a detailed account of the events. It has no insider or exclusive information, but the public chronology is meticulous and accurate. A boring book to read, but good as a reference to verify facts, names and dates.
Information value: 4
Fairness: 5
Entertainment value: 2

Redemption Redemption by Geraldine Hughes
Geraldine Hughes was a secretary of Barry Rothman, the lawyer who represented Evan Chandler in the civil lawsuit against Michael Jackson in 1993. In the lawsuit, Evan accused Michael Jackson of molesting his son. Hughes witnessed Chandler and Rothman plotting a conspiracy against Michael with the goal of extortion. These events are laid out in her book. The book is important because it uncovers the conspiracy and corroborates Michael’s innocence. Unfortunately, it’s poorly written: verbose, full of legal terminology and insignificant details. A religious woman, Hughes concludes the book with a sermon that looks entirely out of place. The book would have benefited from an editor.
Information value: 4
Fairness: 4
Entertainment value: 2

Michael Jackson Conspiracy Michael Jackson Conspiracy by Aphrodite Jones
The book provides a summarized account of the 2005 trial, where Michael Jackson was acquitted on all 14 counts of allegations in inappropriate behavior with a minor. It includes key testimonies of witnesses, a brief description of what was going on in the courtroom and outside of it, attitudes of the parties and the public. After reading this book, you clearly see why the jury unanimously acquitted Jackson, even though the media had been prophesying 20 years in prison to him. The author, Aphrodite Jones, is a journalist who, like many reporters, had a preconceived notion of Jackson’s guilt. After the unexpected acquittal, she revised her position, reviewed the materials of the case and became horrified by how unfairly Michael had been treated by the mass media. In an attempt to inform the public about the truth, she wrote this book.
Information value: 5
Fairness: 5
Entertainment value: 3

The Trials of Michael Jackson The Trials of Michael Jackson by Lynton Guest
The book is dedicated not only to Michael’s criminal trial, also, in a large part, to his relationship with his record label, Sony Music. The author is a journalist with experience and contacts in the music business. In the book, he advances a theory that after the first scandal in 1993, Sony feared for its reputation and tried to get rid of Michael (by under-promoting his albums and later assisting the prosecution during the trial), at the same time seeking to obtain a majority interest in the Sony/ATV venture. As a result of cunning long-term tactics, in 2006 (at the time of publication of this book) Michael agreed to sell 25% of the share in the catalog, and Sony reserved the right to buy it out within 3 years. The conspiracy theory is convincing, and Michael himself believed in it, but it goes against the fact: Sony never exercised its right of purchase Michael’s share, and as of today, the Michael Jackson Estate still owns 50% of the catalog. Was there ever an ill intent? The question remains open.
A few chapters of the book are dedicated to the history of Michael’s relationship with Sony, a few more – to the 2005 trial. The book is full of lyrical digressions – you learn about the history of Sony Corporation starting from the World War II, the competition of information mediums, the public attitude to controversial criminal cases and ins and outs of the music industry. All this comes together into an epic canvas. If not stating unquestionable truth, the book at least gives you an idea how the music business operates and what kinds of games are played there.
Information value: 4
Fairness: 4
Entertainment value: 4

Unmasked Unmasked: The Final Years of Michael Jackson by Ian Halperin
The book is a clear attempt to cash in on the revived public interest in Michael Jackson. Halperin gathered all the “hot” topics related to MJ – from child molestation to health issues and and sexual orientation – and delivered the medley in a classic tabloid style, flavoring it with fiction for extra sensationalism. There is no coherent story-line: about 75% of the book are dedicated to the allegations of 1993 and 2003 (which Halperin initially wanted to prove true, but – too bad! – couldn’t find any evidence), one chapter is about Michael’s “secret love life” and a couple of chapters cover his last years. In these chapters, Michael is painted as homosexual and suicidal. Truth and fiction are mixed in such small grind that it’s impossible to separate one from the other.
There is one worthy sentence in this book. In the epilogue, the author writes: “Michael Jackson may very well have been the most talented performer of his generation – joining the ranks of Dylan, Cobain and Lennon and McCartney as a true musical genius. Sadly, for fifteen years this fact has been lost to a generation who may remember him only as a grotesque caricature who liked to share his bed with little boys.” We can only congratulate the author with his contribution to the grotesque caricature he detests so much.
Information value: 1
Fairness: 1
Entertainment value: 1

Other memoirs that mention Michael Jackson

  • Listen Out Loud: A Life in Music–Managing McCartney, Madonna, and Michael Jackson by Ron Weisner – Weisner worked as manager of The Jacksons and later Michael Jackson in the late 70s/early 80s (he was then replaced by Frank Dileo). A chapter in his book is dedicated to that period. It is revealing of Michael’s work ethics and strive to be the greatest, but not devoid of factual errors, bitterness and “I was the only person who could have saved MJ” delusion.
  • Howling at the Moon: The Odyssey of a Monstrous Music Mogul in an Age of Excess by Walter Yetnikoff – Yetnikoff recounts his years as the CEO of CBS Records, Jackson’s record label. The books gives a good idea of how Michael and other artists were treated by the record label.
  • Hitmaker: The Man and His Music by Tommy Mottola – in his memoir, Mottola, the successor of Yetnikoff, gives his perspective on the infamous conflict with Michael in 2001.
  • There Goes Gravity: A Life in Rock and Roll by Lisa Robinson – Lisa Robinson is a journalist who knew Michael since his childhood. She has sweet memories of Michael form the early years, but is judgmental of his later life choices.
  • Coreyography: A Memoir by Corey Feldman – Corey was a friend of Michael’s until they had a falling out in 2001. The book narrates the story of their friendship.
  • Shockaholic by Carrie Fisher – a memoir of Carrie Fisher, an american actress. A chapter is dedicated to her acquaintance with Michael and a Christmas they spent together in 2008. She also gives a telling character reference to Evan Chandler, Michael’s accuser of 1993, who happened to be her dentist.

4 thoughts on “Michael Jackson Books

  • February 27, 2015 at 2:24 pm
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    Hi Karina.

    I live in the United States of America and acknowledged as the World’s only Neverland Valley Park HIStorian & Author of “Maker of Dreams – Creating Michael Jackson’s ‘Neverland Valley Park'” that I released in Dec. 2013. This is the very first and ONLY book to be published about how Michael’s longtime fantasy “Neverland Dream” became an incredible reality. I was asked in early June 2009 by both Norma E. Staikos, Executive Administrator at MJJ Productions, and Michael himself to be his personal amusement ride consultant and amusement park developer.

    My book is a result of Michael, Norma and myself working together during the early 1990’s as the amusement park was developed and rides installed from the very first day. The 25th Anniversary of Neverland Valley Park will be next Oct. 31st, 2015, which was the very first evening in 1990 when Michael and I celebrated HIS new amusement park then in its infancy and together rode the first two new custom-built rides Michael had purchased from the company I represented, Chance Rides, Inc, Wichita, KS – the fabulous 50’ Grand Carrousel and beautiful C. P. Huntington miniature train.

    My beautiful, high quality, large format book is 224 pages that include almost 200 never before published full color photos from my ©Robert E. Swinson Private Collection. On my webite, http://www.MakerOfDreams.com, these is also my first book review written by Mr. Larry Nimmer, who was hired by Michael to do the last Neverland documentary video for the 2005 trial.

    I have a very high quality PDF digital version immediately available for U.S.$14.99 that I can email via Hightail anywhere in the world, if PayPal can accept the payment type. Plz send me a couple of good addresses in Russia and Ukraine that I can use to get postal service quotes for my cost to mail a printed copy of my personal memoir over there. I have no idea how expensive it would be…

    Plz reply to my email address, makerofdreams@cox.net. I look forward to hearing from you about possibly adding my book to your list. Thanx!

    Robert E. “Rob” Swinson, Michael Jackson’s “Maker of Dreams”

    Reply
    • February 27, 2015 at 4:14 pm
      Permalink

      Hi Rob,
      thanks for your message here. I’m not Karina, but I’m one of the site contributors and the author of these book reviews. I have read your book and am going to add it to the list in the next few days. I enjoyed it, even in the most basic Kindle version 🙂
      I will also post information about your book in some Russian communities for those who might want to order a PDF or printed version. The standard shipping prices from the US are usually within $20 depending on the size and weight, – I think you can check quotes on the USPS Price Calculator page for estimates.

      Reply
      • March 22, 2015 at 8:13 am
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        Hi Morinen. I appreciate your response, and positive comments. I hope you realized my gross error in this statement above, “I was asked in early June 2009 [sic- June 1990] by both Norma E. Staikos, Executive Administrator at MJJ Productions, and Michael himself to be his personal amusement ride consultant and amusement park developer.” I’m not very familiar with the Kindle version, and am hopeful my text and photos were not compromised. Plz send me an email at makerofdreams@cox.net when you post my book information.

        I noticed you do not have the second book released by Brigitte Bloemen, Marina Dobler, Miriam Lohr posted – “A Life for L.O.V.E.” – released Aug. 29, 2013. Each chapter was submitted by several of us who knew Michael personally, including his artist friend, David Nordahl, and myself. It was due to the contribution of my chapter to their second book that I decided to keep writing and compiling my own book after I was told they could not include any color photos, only black and white. I knew my well documented writings and archived collection of several hundred never before published photographs would be of great interest to Michael’s worldwide fans, and the comments I receive are often beautifully worded and full of emotion. I’ll share a couple of recent ones here with you:
        (1) Dear Rob – I am SO enjoying your beautiful book in PDF format – I know you understand how happy I am to be able to read it and I thank you from the bottom of my heart – I will work even harder to be able to buy it because I want to put my hands on this beautiful book and FEEL it and to know that I can take it with me and sit in peace and dream my self away. Until then I am more than grateful to be able to read it on the computer.
        The LOVE for Michael is shining through in both your words and photos and reading it make me SO happy that he had people around him that were there for HIM and his dream and not for his fame and money. Thank you again for your respect and for “Paying Michael Forward” with this amazing book and the way you help children in honor of your friend Michael ♥ You truly live up to your title “Maker of Dreams” ♥
        (2) Hi Rob! ~
        Spectacular ~ breathtaking ~ informative ~ heartfelt!! ~ I literally devoured (well almost!) your entire book already!:) All but the radio interview with Dr. Catherine Gross, that’s next. I’m pretty sure I heard this interview when it aired & I was in tears right along with you believe me! Words can’t express how grateful I am to you for making Michael’s dream a reality for him…For the children. I could not put your book down! It was beautifully written & the pictures. What you had written to me…the magazine & the two signed pictures, WOW, thank you! This will be treasured forever & yes! I felt I was transported there with every page I turned. Thank you SO much for keeping Michael’s dream alive in our hearts, you were a TRUE friend to him & he loved you I could tell! I cried through many of the stories, some funny, some unforgettable, ALL memorable & ALL cherished. Our angel up there is smiling down upon you! Michael is so happy & honored as he looks down & sees all you are doing & we are so grateful to your devotion in helping the children he so cared about, you are one in a billion! God Bless you!

        I have received so many messages of L.O.V.E. and support like this that I feel another book would be possible just by compiling them, but might soon become a bit too redundant for the readers! 🙂 However, every one of these comments is priceless to me just by knowing I’ve helped someone’s “healing process” as a result of their sense of loss after the passing of my friend Michael. This is all the reward I can ask for in this life…

        Lots Of L.O.V.E.
        Rob Swinson
        Michael Jackson’s “Maker of Dreams”

        Reply
  • May 2, 2015 at 9:34 am
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    Hi! Can anyone please help me to find the Barney’s book “private conversations in Neverland with Michael Jackson ” ? I can’t find it anywhere!! In Amazon there are only some pages… Pleeeeaaaase!!!

    Reply

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